Thursday, 24 May 2012

French beans growing

French beans are a major export crop in Kenya whose local consumption is gradually being adopted. The crop is popularly grown by both large and smallholder farmers. French beans are immature green pods which are referred to as snap or green beans. It is recommended to be grown on small scale with staggered planting due to its intensive labour requirements. It is cultivated both for fresh consumption and processing mainly canning and freezing. The optimum temperature range for growing French beans is 20-25ÂșC and an altitude range of 1,000-2,1000M.Rainfed cultivation is possible in areas with well distributed medium to high rainfall of 900-1,200 per year, but supplementary irrigation is required to maintain continuous production during off season. French beans performs best on well drained silty loams to heavy clay soil high in organic matter contents with slightly acidic to slightly alkaline PH of 6.5-7.5.


Varieties grown in Kenya are determined by market preference and includes monel, Gloria, Claudia, Morgan, Amy coby, espada maasai, Samantha, paulista and nerina. Monel is a high yielding variety with a long picking duration which has been growing Kenya for long. The pods are grayish green, straight, long, round and fleshy. String and seed development is slow making even pods harvested late to qualify for market. Monel French beans Flowers are purple with black seeds. Certified seeds are recommended for French beans growing at a seed rate of 50-60 kg per hectare. With irrigation, all year round production is possible but the main export season is October to May. The land should be ploughed and harrowed properly before direct sowing of the French beans seeds. Planting is carried out in single rows at 30×15cm or double rows at 60×30×10cm single seed per hole. The crop takes 45-50 days from planting to first picking. Farm yard manure is recommended in poor soils at a rate of 10tons/ha applied in planting furrows. 200kg per ha of DAP fertilizer is applied in the furrows and mixed well before planting. At three leaf stage topdressing is carried out with 100kg of CAN and a second application follows at the onset of flowering. Foliar feed should be applied fortnightly from the fourth week to mid podding stage to promote high yields.

However excessive nitrogen promotes growth of leaves instead of pods. Regular watering is essential for promotion of high yields, uniformity and high quality. The crop is sensitive to water stress at flowering .Water logging should also be avoided. Application of 35mm of water per week at planting to 10 days after germination and 50mm thereafter to flowering stage is recommended for good growth of French beans. Timely weed control is absolutely essential. The following pre-emergence herbicides can be used.
  1. Lasso 4 EC( Alachlor)-3 litres in 400litres of water per hectare
  2. Stomp (Pendimethalin)-2.5 Litres in 400 litres of water per hectare
  3. Basagran (Bentazon)-Can be applied post emergence at 2.5-3 litres per hectare for control of broad leaved weeds.
Major pest and diseases in growing of French beans includes fungal diseases, insect attacks and nematodes. Control is mainly by application of recommended pesticides, crop rotation, and use of certified seeds, field hygiene and crop rotation.
http://www.journalofkenyanhorticulture.blogspot.com/2011/04/kenyan-french-bean-production-
http://www.hortibiz.com/detail/article/kenya-starts-export-of-french-beans-to-us/